Sign Language Resources
It is the go-to app for free (except on iOS) Spaced Repetition System (SRS) flashcards. It has a simple user interface with various features that more hard-core users can dive into if they choose.
Your flashcards will appear according to your natural forgetting curve; the app will test you in increasingly spaced out intervals, with more difficult cards appearing more than once in a session, while easier cards spacing out over weeks — or even months and years. An SRS system is the most effective way to drive information into your long-term memory.
The cards can sync between the web, desktop app, and mobile versions to keep your flashcards updated and with you at all times. You can add images and audio clips to your cards and change the text formatting (if you use it on your computer). One feature unique to Anki, as opposed to other SRS flashcard apps, is the “Cloze deletion” function, which allows you to block out parts of your card and create a “fill-in-the-blanks” type card format.
If you want a resource for how to make effective flashcards, check out the book, FluentForever. The author leaves a whole section dedicated to understanding how to use your Anki deck to advance your skills quickly.
italki is the most flexible and affordable place to find a tutor for the language you’re learning. They have a huge number of teachers offering classes to students of over 100 different languages. As a learner, you’ll be able to find a tutor that best fits your learning style, schedule, and personality. Teachers are able to set their own prices and make their own schedule.
Brainscape is a flashcard app that uses a Spaced Repetition System, also often referred to as ‘adaptive flashcards’, to help you memorize new vocabulary and facts. It has a team of scientists, engineers, and education experts working to optimize their program for effective learning.
Brainscape is quite similar to Anki, but has a more modern and colourful interface. They also have Certified Classes, which are decks that seem to have been developed by experts in the chosen topic. The app adds what they call Intelligent Cumulative Exposure (ICE) to some of their Certified Classes; it seems to combine a Spaced Repetition System with gradually introducing new concepts, increasing the difficulty of the concepts, and providing context so you can build your own sentences.
It has several Certified Classes for various languages (and other topics), and many more decks created by users. Unlike Anki, edits that creators make to user decks seem to sync up even after you have downloaded the deck.
With the free version, you have limited access to premium decks but unlimited access to user-made decks.
YouGlish is a website that has indexed millions of video clips to put words in context for language learners. After searching for a word in your target language, you will see a YouTube video with subtitles and your target word highlighted in yellow. When you have heard the word, you can continue listening to the video or move on to the next example. You can also slow down the speed of the audio, click on a sentence in the transcript to replay it, or skip backwards 5 seconds to listen again. Sometimes you can watch over 1000 videos with your target word, other times there may only be a couple dozen available.
Some languages also allow you to choose between different regional dialects, such as: French from Canada or France; Chinese from Taiwan or China; and Spanish from Spain or Latin America.
You will need to search for the word in your target language, so you can check out WordReference or Linguee to get a translation. Forvo also provides audio clips of native speaker pronunciation, but with YouGlish, you can practice listening to these words in context.
If you want help with reading the subtitles, you can download Readlang for on-screen translations. The Zhongwen Chrome extension will be better for Chinese learners, as it provides the pronunciation of each character as well as a definition.
Rocket Languages is a comprehensive resource offering courses in several commonly learned languages. There’s a range of quality between the different language options. Some aren’t very good, some are worth looking at, but none of them are truly outstanding. While the material is often well-structured and full of practice opportunities, uninteresting content and repetitive exercises often keep the experience mediocre.
Living Language Online Course
Living Language provides numerous learning materials for multiple languages, including complete and essential courses that come with textbooks and CDs. They also have specialty courses covering business, travel, and several jobs. However, their standard online version isn’t very practical, and it’s difficult to tell if you’re actually learning or simply going through the motions. While the resource might be useful for those who want access to a large vocab list with grammar reading materials, there are better, cheaper options.
The first thing to remember about the Udemy course marketplace is that you should never buy a course full price. Many of the courses are priced well over the 100 dollar range, only to be discounted and sold for about $20. Also, signing up for Udemy usually gives you a massive discount in the first 24 hours.
With most of the courses rated four stars and above, it’s difficult to gauge which of the courses measure up to other available resources without looking through every course’s previews. You may find two courses rated 4.5 stars — one that’s essentially a phrasebook slideshow, and another that engages you in listening to conversations, learning new vocabulary, and grammar.
If you do decide to take a language course with Udemy, be aware that some of the courses are taught by non-native speakers, even if they have a native speaker as their cover image. A non-native speaker is not always a bad thing, but in some cases, specifically in Udemy’s case, it may result in learners acquiring incorrect pronunciation or grammar.
Overall, Udemy is probably not the best choice is you’ve finally mustered up the motivation to start learning a language now, unless you just happen to go to the site during a discount period and you’ve enjoyed the previews of your chosen course.
At Take Lessons you can find in-person and online teachers for various topics, including language learning. This review is specific only to language learning.
Once on the site, you can filter teachers based on their location, availability, and price, then view the teacher’s profile to see their experience, student ratings, and basic bio. Most of the teachers have great ratings, so the quality of teaching is probably not an issue. However, Take Lessons takes about 40% of whatever the teachers charge. Obviously teachers need to charge a living wage, so can expect to pay 25% more than most language learning platforms whose teachers are of comparable quality.
Why 25%? Because most platforms (like iTalki and Verbling for example) only take a 15% commission, if not less. The only difference is that you could potentially have in-person lessons with Take Lessons, while the previously mentioned platforms are all online.
Take Lessons is probably a handy site for other types of services, but there are many more teachers and features specific to language learning available through the above mentioned alternative platforms.